Six year old Brian had many favourite things. He had a favourite colour, a favourite teddy, a favourite shirt and a favourite friend – although, all of these favourites could change almost daily.
One favourite that did not change was Brian’s favourite tree.
Brian’s favourite tree was a red gum that stood, tall and lean, in the back yard of the house he shared with his father.
During the day, Brian admired the tree’s subtle beauty, with it’s milky white trunk and grey-green leaves.
But in the evening the tree was set alight with the vivid pink and orange glow of the setting sun. Brian loved to gaze out of his bedroom window in the evening and watch his tree come alive.
Then one day, a large branch fell, nearly knocking over the back fence. Daddy was very worried, although Brian tried to tell him it would be ok.
“I’m sorry Brian,” daddy said, “It’s too dangerous to have a tree that can drop branches that size in a suburban back yard.”
“Can we move it?” Brian asked hopefully.
“It doesn’t quite work like that, mate,” daddy replied. “I’m very sorry Brian, but the tree has to go.”
Brian was terribly sad. He cried that night as he watched the tree glowing in the evening light.
The tree men (a title Brian objected to; he thought they should be called the tree-chopping-down men) couldn’t come until the following week.
At first, Brian moped, but then he decided that he should be spending the tree’s last days enjoying it, rather than being sad.
That night, he held a tea party there with his daddy and all of his toys. His firetruck commented on the freshness of the cucumber sandwiches, while the teddies seemed to enjoy their honey-water.
Then Brian prepared a picnic dinner for himself and daddy to eat under the branches of the tree. They had ham and chutney sandwiches, hard boiled eggs and cheese and carrot sticks. Daddy brought a small cake for dessert, and told Brian he was an excellent picnic host.
On the weekend, Brian and daddy spent half an hour throwing a heavy rope up at the lowest branch of the tree, which was still rather high.
When the rope finally hooked over, they used it to pull up and anchor a large bedsheet to use as a tent, and camped under it.
Daddy set up a small billy for tea, and they sat under the stars talking and sipping billy tea until late in the evening.
By the time the following week arrived, Brian was ready to say goodbye.
That morning before school he gave the tree as tight a hug as he could manage when his arms only went part of the way around.
“Goodbye,” he whispered, a small tear leaking from his eye, “I’ll miss you.”
Daddy gave him a hug and then piggybacked him all the way to school. By the time they arrived Brian was laughing again.
But when home time came, he felt a sense of dread come over him.
He dawdled on the walk home and asked his father several times whether they really needed to go home anyway.
Eventually they made it, but before they walked into the house daddy turned to Brian and said solemly “I have something to show you”.
He unlocked the gate and led Brian down the side of the house into the back yard.
Brian closed his eyes and held on to daddy’s jeans, stumbling slightly. He didn’t want to see what his beautiful tree had become.
“Open your eyes,” daddy said gently.
Hesitantly, Brian opened them, only to see that in place of his tree stood a beautifully carved chair.
Brian gasped in amazement and ran over to explore his chair. Daddy followed him.
“I told the tree-chopping-down men about how much you loved this tree and they agreed that a beautiful tree needed a beautiful memento,” he said.
“It’s your chair, Brian.”